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Stellantis, last of the Big Three automakers, reaches deal with Unifor

By Nick Seebruch - Rabble, October 31, 2023

After an overnight strike lasting mere hours, Unifor and American automaker Stellantis reached a deal for Unifor’s 8,200 Canadian auto workers.

In a press conference held on Monday, October 30, Unifor president Lana Payne lauded the deal which she explained was hard fought.

“I’m very proud of our members at every Stellantis facility for their quick and decisive action during this brief, but effective strike action,” said Payne.

The workers covered by this deal work at plants in Windsor, Brampton and Etobicoke ON, as well as distribution centres in Mississauga, ON, and Red Deer, AB.

Payne explained that Stellantis came to the table with aggressive demands, which included requests to outsource jobs as well as other concessions.

“There were many challenges in this round of bargaining including flat out resistance to the pattern agreement we had reached with Ford Motor Company and General Motors,” Payne said, referring to previous deals reached with the two other Big Three Detroit-based automakers.

The deal with Ford, which Unifor hoped to serve as the blueprint for their negotiations with the other major automakers, included guarantees around wages, cost of living adjustments, pensions, as well as protections for workers as the auto industry transitions to electric vehicles.

Payne said in Monday’s press conference that Unifor had managed to secure much of these same guarantees for their members who work for Stellantis, which has the largest corporate footprint in Canada than the other two of the Big Three.

Union wins specific gains for Stellantis employees

Payne added that in addition to the assurances on pensions, wages, and electric vehicle transitions that Unifor secured from the other automakers, that Stellantis has also agreed to company specific pension improvements and specific assurances for their Windsor plant as they are currently transitioning to electric vehicles.

Additionally, Windsor will soon be host to a new battery plant in which Stellantis is a minor shareholder and Unifor has secured a concession that the workers at this plant will be classified as autoworkers and will be Unifor members.

Stellantis has committed to investing $3 million in their facilities across Ontario. Both the Windsor and Brampton plants will be going to three working shifts, and the Etobicoke plant will also see new jobs created.

Payne said that a last minute sticking point that Unifor secured just before they reached a deal was a guarantee that there would not be job cuts to engineering or office staff among their members.

Payne championed the deals her union had secured with the Big Three as being extremely favourable for Unifor members.

“We had to achieve something to everybody, and given the economic times that we were in, what we were very clear about with automakers at the start of bargaining was that this would have to be the best collective agreement in the history of bargaining in Canada for autoworkers to meet the expectations of our members,” Payne said.

Auto workers’ unions see success on both sides of the border

The same day that Unifor secured their deal with Stellantis, their American counterparts in the United Auto Workers (UAW) union reached a tentative agreement with General Motors.

UAW members had been on strike since September 19 as they sought to seek better wages, cost of living adjustments and their own protections for their members during the transition to electric vehicles.

UAW president Shawn Fain celebrated the agreement as a major victory for his members. General Motors was the last of the Big Three to reach an agreement with the UAW.

“Once again, we have won several astonishing victories,” said Fain. “The result is one of the most astounding victories since the sit down strikes of the 1930s.”

At the very least, on both sides of the border solidarity among auto workers seems to have garnered results.

“At first blush these look like pretty good agreements. The devil is always in the details, though, and a final assessment of how auto workers did in this last round of negotiations will only be possible once detailed texts are available. One thing is clear, however, and that is that a united union willing to use its strike option will always win more from employers than one that won’t put up a fight,” said rabble columnist and long time labour commentator Tom Sandborn.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author.

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